Shelli’s Travel Rewards Card Picks

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I’ve partnered with Upgraded Points because the site has the most detailed, user-friendly online miles and points guides that they keep regularly updated.

I write on the blogs Travel With Grant and Point Me To The Plane. Besides contributing to these blogs I am a health and fitness entrepreneur who travels the world in search of culture, food, and fun! You can also find me at Joy In Movement.

Chase Ultimate Rewards

The most valuable credit cards for me have flexible rewards programs like Chase Ultimate Rewards that have both airline & hotel transfer partners, and solid points for cash travel awards.

My Ultimate Rewards points go to:

  • Star Alliance carrier flights for my travels both to Asia and Europe, booked with United MileagePlus
  • Stays at Hyatt hotels where I maintain my Globalist status
  • Southwest Airlines flights for trips within the US

I pool points earned from my personal and business Chase cards, maximizing category bonuses such as:

  • 3x travel on the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Ink Business Preferred
  • 5x category bonuses of the Chase Freedom and Ink Business Cash
  • 1.5x everywhere ease of the Chase Freedom Unlimited and Ink Business Unlimited

My Recommended Chase Personal Cards

CHASE PERSONAL CARDBENEFITS & INFO
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
  • Biggest Bonus Ever! Earn 60,000 bonus points
  • 2X points on travel and dining.
  • Good to Excellent Credit Recommended (670-850)
  • Annual Fee: $95
Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Unlimited®
  • Earn $150 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months. Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases & balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.74% - 25.49%.
  • 3% intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days with a minimum of $5.
  • Annual Fee: $0

My Recommended Chase Business Cards

CHASE BUSINESS CARDBENEFITS & INFO
Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card

Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card
  • Earn $500 bonus cash back
  • Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services
  • Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 (combined) spent at gas stations and restaurants each year
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99% - 20.99%
  • $0 Annual Fee
Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card

Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases in the following categories each account anniversary year: Travel, Shipping purchases, Internet, cable and phone services, Advertising purchases with social media sites and search engines.
  • Get up to $600 per claim in Cell Phone Protection against covered theft or damage for you (and your employees listed on your monthly cell phone bill) when you pay it with your Chase Ink Business Preferred credit card.
  • Annual Fee: $95

American Express Membership Rewards

The American Express Membership Rewards program is also great value for me because of their many transfer partners:

  • Air France KLM Flying Blue Program is a good choice for West Coast flights to Europe
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is useful for awards on Delta that can be much cheaper than Delta charges
  • ANA Mileage Club is an underrated Star Alliance program
  • Air Canada Aeroplan works great for Star Alliance, too, on airlines where surcharges are not added
  • British Airways Executive Club is great for short-distance flights on Oneworld airlines and Alaska Airlines
  • Choice Privileges is a great value for stays in Europe with breakfasts often included

The new American Express® Gold Card is incredible for spend at US Restaurants as well as US Supermarkets. See the details below!

If relaxing and having some downtime at airports is a benefit you’d use, the Platinum Card® from American Express comes with many benefits, one of which is Centurion Lounge access.

I’ve used Centurion Lounges all over the world and they’re great!

Airline Credit Cards

Southwest

The Southwest Companion Pass may just be the best deal in the whole world of travel!

The introductory bonus on the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Card (learn more) counts toward earning your Companion Pass.

The card also includes priority A-group boarding on four flights annually. See here for more info about the Rapid Rewards cards.

Alaska

The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card (learn more) is one I’ve had for many years. I never miss using the annual Companion Fare benefit from the card which is a free buy-one-get-one ticket in economy class. The primary traveler must pay the fare, but the companion pays just $99 plus taxes and fees.
The certificate is easy to apply to your fare and more than worth the annual fee!

Hotel Credit Cards

There are a few hotel credit cards I use for my preferred hotel chains!

Capital One

For anyone who spends a significant number of nights in hotel rooms, the Capital One® Venture Rewards Credit Card (learn more) can work well for you.

The card nets 10 points for every dollar spent at Hotels.com and also offers 2 points on all other purchases.

The annual fee is $95 per year, waived the first year, but this includes a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee waiver.

The points (Capital One actually calls them “miles”) can be redeemed at a fixed one-cent rate for credit on your statement against any travel purchase.

Like other travel cards, the Capital One® Venture doesn’t charge any foreign transaction fees which is a nice bonus.

Hyatt

The World of Hyatt Credit Card (learn more) is a favorite of mine, earning 4pts per $1 spent on purchases at all Hyatt Hotels and 1 free night every year.

New from Hilton

The refreshed lineup of Hilton cards is worth a look, especially the Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express, The Hilton Honors American Express Card or the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card for giving Hilton Honors Gold status and their earning potential.

Marriott

With the merger of Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest into one hotel program, the hotel choices now number 6,700!

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card - Earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Get automatic silver elite status each account anniversary year; and a free night award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary.
Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card - earn 75,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. A solid card for business owners who will get complimentary Marriott Bonvoy silver elite status. Annual fee is $125. For rates and fees of the Bonvoy Business Card, click here.

‘No Brainer’ Cards for Businesses

For business owners, the American Express Blue Business℠ Plus earns 2x points everyone up to $50,000 per year and has no annual fee, yet can transfer to all Membership Rewards partners. An incredible value!

For those who prefer cash-back, the American Express® Blue Business Cash Card is a great small business option with a straight forward 2% cash-back on all eligible purchases on up to $50,000 per calendar year, then 1%.

Shelli Stein - Sydney
Sydney is just one of many fun destinations to explore in Australia!

My Travel

I travel both America and the world for business and pleasure. I use rewards credit cards to maximize my spending, and then turn around and use points and miles to travel more for less than I ever thought possible.

Miles and points mean that when I travel I can spend longer in each place immersing myself in the local life and culture — and using them can also afford me many wonderful opportunities to see family and friends more often.

Always on the Lookout for More Rewards and More Travel

Smart investment of time to maximize rewards on personal and business spend can pay off in ‘once in a lifetime’ trips again and again!

Shelli Stein
Have you ever co-piloted a small plane? In Botswana? Over the delta? Neither have I, really. But as part of my safari experience last year when we went from safari camp to camp, the pilot of our small six-seater airplane let me sit in the co-pilot seat right beside him. WOW, what fun, especially those take-offs and landings on what was barely more than a strip of dirt.

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